Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Preparing to Show My Art: A Nature Inspired Booth

There is so much going on in my art room right now... 

It's a chaotic mess to anyone looking in.  It's kind of a chaotic mess to me!  Somehow, I'm preparing for my first time selling art in public.  Okay, I must say, it's not really my first time.  It just my first time in over ten years!  Now, I'm ready to jump back in and present my artwork in public again!

In June of 2015, I felt this strong desire to begin exploring my artistic skills again.  I've got my list of goals written down but over time, I've discovered these goals take longer than I'd first imagined.  My family has patiently and lovingly tolerated (and supported) me as I take on the project of preparing to show my artwork in public again.  On top of the framed original watercolor paintings and the packaged Giclee art prints, I've added some other items to my merchandise.  I know I've got to play this out right in order to be successful.  High ticket items are a tough sell next to other items sold at the arts & craft fairs.  I need to have a strategy for more affordable price points for selling to a wider range of people and pocket books.  You'll see that I've been thinking through this thoroughly!  This place has been a madhouse with so many projects going at once.

Gathering beautiful items for display table.  Baskets and crates with pine cones and strings of lights.
Gathering items to build my booth displays.

The animals sleep nearby while I work on multiple projects in my art room.
My furry companions are worn out!  They napped for me.

Lucy, my cat, sleeps nearby while I work in my art room.
Lucy takes a comfy spot nearby.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Behind the Scenes in My Art Room

Artist on vacation, kayaking in Washington state.

Catching Up After Vacation

After a week of family time away in Washington state, I'm home and busy again.  It's time to prepare for my two teens to return to school!  The summer has flown by and now we're buying clothes, shoes, and supplies.  It seems like forever since there was a paintbrush in my hand!  I was certainly in my groove with the cherry blossoms in early August.  Then, while my parents came to visit, they went to work with improvements on my art room.  It's located at the back of our home.  I've been longing for a door to close off the art room from the rest of the house.  My husband and I have been looking for many months; we found the door of my dreams.  My dad worked on finishing the door casing around the sliding glass door and adding trim around the new door.  My mom worked on staining and milk painting the new door and a new back door as well.  My art room was the hub of activity with plenty of dust and house paint supplies.

The two new doors are the recent changes to my art room.
The new view from the kitchen to my art room...two new doors!

I'm sure there's very little work left remaining for the first cherry blossom watercolor painting to be completed.  I was disappointed that I could not deliver it to my sister while we visited them in Washington.  Soon, I'll pick up where I left off and then I can ship it off to her.  She showed me where it will hang once finished and framed so soon it will have a home there.

Cherry blossoms in watercolor, an artwork in progress.  Christy Sheeler art studio.

I've been thinking on back-to-school this past few weeks.  I remember some of the school supplies that I used in elementary school, like the Big Chief writing tablets and the cardboard pencil boxes.  I can remember many teachers giving the report that I daydreamed too much and I was often doodling when I should be listening or doing classwork.  That seems like it fits an artist, doesn't it?  I remember one junior high teacher humiliating me when he found I was drawing during class.  It wasn't art class...history, I think.  He sarcastically dealt with me and then hung my drawing on the wall.  He lost all of my respect but I didn't let that happen again.  Other teachers were happy to encourage my creativity and it meant a lot to me.  Now, I see myself as someone who loves learning, thinking of new ways to do things, and it makes creativity so much more fulfilling.

During our time away, we were able to get some school shopping done!  This year, we'll have two in high school.  They need new shoes for every day and another pair for gym class.  We were shopping with my son and my daughter was with my sister.  While checking out shoes selection, I took photos and sent them to my daughter's phone.  Shoe selection is a really big deal!  After sending her 4 or 5 photos, she replied, "Can you please come get me?"  How did we do the school shopping before?  It was so much simpler then.

Shopping for shoes during the back-to-school season.

My art room is full of crazy energy and busy activity preparing for my first public display of art in a long time.  I've been getting ideas from Pinterest and local Farmer's Market so I can design my own table and booth for arts and craft fairs.  It's a difficult thing to imagine what my own image and brand should be and yet it is coming along.  I have so much chaos and clutter happening in my creative space!  I'm hesitant to share because I like it neat and tidy best of all.  There's a little voice in my head that reminds me that creativity can't always be contained.  Sometimes the mess is necessary in order for things to get done.

Creative space in the art room, making note cards for gift with purchase.  Rubber stamping and watercolor together.

I was able to purchase some shutters for displaying framed art!  I've been hunting for a great way to display my artwork.  I have looked at louvered closet doors but they usually have a solid panel for half the door.  At a yard sale, I located the perfect shutters and then thought I'd lost that opportunity.  I was struggling to come up with a Plan B when I came across the same yard sale again.  Five of the eight shutters where still there and I bought them on the spot!  They need some work but a good cleaning and some paint will make a big difference.  Once hinged together, I'll add some S-hooks and my artwork will have a great display!

Shutters purchased at a yard sale will become my display panels for framed artwork.

I was feeling overwhelmed with all the preparation I'd like to make happen!  I can allow some chaos as long as I can keep it all straight.  There are orders for supplies that won't arrive for several more days so I'm strategically planning my to do list.  Early in the week, I made myself a visual for keeping it all straight and it has helped me so much!

Making a plan for preparing to show my artwork at an arts & craft fair.

I've been experimenting with fabric medium!  A cloth banner for my table/booth seems so appropriate.  What would instantly communicate who I am and what I do more than a banner that is hand painted with watercolors?  Admittedly, I work very wet in general when painting with watercolors.  This was my downfall with the banner.  I'll share more in a future post...because I have a lot of photos to share and advice to give on this subject.  I had to paint over my first attempt to brighten it up.  It's not quite finished but I'll share a few snapshots for now.  The lettering will be painted today and tomorrow.  While the background is watercolor, the lettering will be acrylic craft paint mixed with fabric medium and extender medium.

Demo practice run for painting on fabric with fabric medium.
My practice run on a scrap of fabric before the real thing.

First attempt at painting with watercolors on fabric banner.  It faded with the fabric medium addition.
The first attempt, which faded too much when the fabric medium was applied over it.

Transferring lettering outlines to the banner with permanent marker at the sliding glass door.
Tracing the lettering with permanent marker at the sliding glass door.

The second try and final version of the painted fabric banner, with lettering traced and waiting to be painted black.
My fabric banner, painted with watercolors and fabric medium, ready for black lettering.

With the help of my family, I have Giclee art prints packaged and ready to go!  They'll be displayed in a rustic basket.  My daughter helped me shop for some key display items and I'm so thrilled with what we've got so far!

My Giclee art prints packaged and displayed in a rustic basket.

I've got frames on order so there will be one or two days spent framing originals.  Yesterday and today, I'm also focusing on handmade note cards, which have been my gift with purchase.  These cards will also be offered for sale at my booth.  There's a new item I'm adding to my offering at my booth is a natural lip balm.  I've been making my own for about two years now.  It's got all natural ingredients and I like adding peppermint and grapefruit essential oils.  I've demonstrated making it for a ladies gathering and given the lip balms as gifts in the past.  Now, by request, it will be available at my table, too.

Hand made note cards packaged and ready for display.

The label design will change after the great suggestions of a friend to include some of my artwork.  With basic ingredients like coconut oil and beeswax, I have come up with my own recipe that I love better than any in stores.  It will be a nice little item to offer for more varied price points at my booth.  

The beta version of my lip balm label.  I'm adding my own artwork to the new label.

I know I've been away for longer than usual for my blog.  It's been hard to stay away and I really wanted to be here, so much I want to share with all of you!

I know there are so many other creatives, hungry for new ideas and tips.  There's a driving energy to try something unconventional, find a way to achieving another what-if, figure out something no one's tried yet, and make something amazing with your own stamp on it!

With a great commitment to getting back on a regular writing schedule, I will try to inspire you to go try out your creative wings!  If a week passes without a new post, I reassure you, I'm still here, creating something.  I keep saying it and I'll say it again...check out my Instagram and Facebook because it's easier for me to post quick updates to those than here.

While writing a blog post with the best intentions to keep it brief, I fail more times than I succeed.  This is like a fantastic version of show & tell in school.  I have a background in elementary teaching and I love sharing visuals and telling how step-by-step.  That in itself could take up all my creative time!  So if you find yourself wondering, "I wonder what crazy creative idea she's working on today," then hop on over to Facebook or Instagram.  You'll find more connections with other creative people and find some incredible inspiration!

So now, it's time I get back to the note cards!  I need to finish up so I can clean up and then set up for the next project.  My kitchen will at some point become a framing station for a day or two!  As much as I enjoy all this, I'll be ecstatic to be working on the cherry blossoms once more.  The watercolors still rate higher though they wait for my personal attention.

Have a creative and beautiful week!  Challenge yourself with a new adventure in creativity this week.  Buy some fresh flowers for the kitchen table!  Go for a walk and observe the gardens in bloom.  Take a break and fix a cup of tea for sipping in your favorite spot.  Listen to the birds!

For this week,

She must make art.